(CHARLOTTETOWN, PE) The UNB Reds are headed to the Atlantic University Sport final after beating the UPEI Panthers 5-0 on Monday, sweeping their best of five semi-final series 3-0.
The Reds put the game away late in the second period with three goals in just 2:31.
Forward Kris Bennett (Brampton, ON) led the charge with two of those goals.
"It was huge for us," said Bennett of the second-period push. "I think it took some wind out of them and we just kept rolling from there."
Alexandre Goulet (Disraeli, QC), Mark Rassell (Calgary, AB) and Tyler Boland (St. John's, NL) also scored in the win, while Randy Gazzola (Thorold, ON) had two assists.
After two hard fought games in Fredericton, UNB had no intention of letting this series extend beyond three games.
"We wanted to make sure we finished it off tonight," Bennett said. "UPEI worked so hard and their goalie was unbelievable for them. We were getting a bit worn down, but we had a bit more legs than them tonight."
The Reds opened the scoring mid-way through the first period. At 9:41, Gazzola's shot from the blue line deflected to Goulet, who faked a shot and walked around goaltender Matthew Mancina (Windsor, ON).
UPEI had an opportunity to find the equalizer early in the second while on a two-man advantage, but they couldn't solve the visitors' stingy defence. That came back to haunt them late in the period, when the Reds piled on the goals.
After the puck took a funny bounce off the boards at 16:37, an alert Bennett deposited it past an unsuspecting Simon Hofley (Ottawa, ON), who replaced an injured Mancina at the start of the period.
Moments later, Rassell scored UNB's third goal on a penalty shot after getting dragged down on a breakaway.
On an ensuing power-play, just 29 seconds later, Boland sent a pass in front to Bennett, who guided a shot past Hofley to make it 4-0.
Boland added his own power-play goal mid-way through the third, when he took a pass from Gazzola in front of the net and backhanded it in to close out the scoring.
The Reds now await the winner of the Saint Mary's–St FX series.
By securing a spot in the AUS Championship, the Reds have also qualified for the 2019 Cavendish Farms University Cup, in Lethbridge, Alberta.
This will be UNB's fifth straight trip to the University Cup, and their 11th trip in 13 years.
The national university men’s hockey championship runs from March 14-17.
RECAP AND PHOTOS BY: Thomas Becker/for UPEI Athletics